WASHINGTON - House Republicans approved their sweeping tax-cut package Thursday, setting up a showdown with the Senate, where Republicans are struggling to win support for their own significantly different approach.
Senate GOP leaders, after making some revisions this week, are facing mounting dissent and criticism that their tax plan favors corporations and the wealthy. An analysis by Congress' bipartisan tax experts Thursday concluded the Senate plan would raise taxes for some of the poorest Americans by 2021.
House Republicans passed their measure by a vote of 227-205, though 13 Republicans voted no.
Democrats were unified against the plan, and the Republican defections came from lawmakers in the Northeast and California, who were mostly concerned about the proposed elimination of deductions for state and local income taxes and the capping of property-tax deductions at $10,000. The write-offs are widely used in their high-tax districts.
Ahead of the House vote, President Trump traveled to Capitol Hill to bolster Republicans worried that if they didn't pass tax reform, they would risk voter revolt in next year's midterm election for failing to keep a major campaign promise, particularly after their failed Obamacare repeal.
Trump assured House Republicans that he was behind their effort. The White House has so far expressed no preference for either the House or Senate version.
Rather than offering a hard sell, the president emphasized the historic nature of what they were trying to accomplish.
Though the Obamacare effort stalled amid opposition from a handful of Senate Republicans, he predicted that senators currently voicing skepticism about the tax-reform bill would "come around."
"I love you," Trump told them, according to those who attended the private meeting. "Go vote!"
House leaders celebrated the vote.
"Passing this bill is the single biggest thing we can do to grow the economy, restore opportunity, and help these middle-income families that are struggling," House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R., Wis.) said.
But approval sets Republicans in the House and Senate on a collision course as they rush to finish the package by Christmas.
The Senate plan has key differences and is facing greater hurdles for passage, particularly as senators try to find ways to enhance benefits for middle-income Americans.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) became the first GOP senator to oppose the proposal, saying it did not do enough to help small businesses.
Centrist Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) has also raised concerns, as have other senators.
Under special budget rules, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes in the Senate, assuming all Democrats vote against their plan.
Concerns were only heightened by a report Thursday from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation that estimated many low-income earners would end up with tax increases, not tax breaks, in the latest Senate plan.
Those making between $10,000 and $30,000 a year would pay more in taxes starting in 2021, the committee found. By 2023, people with incomes less than $10,000 also would see tax increases.
All other income categories - including those earning more than $1 million a year - would see tax decreases, according to the report.
But in 2027, taxes would go up for every income group under $75,000 because the Senate Republican bill calls for tax cuts and other changes to the individual code to expire at the end of 2025.
The large cut in the corporate tax rate, to 20 percent from 35 percent, would be permanent under the Republican bill.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) called the report "jaw-dropping news."
But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch ( R., Utah) noted that the projections for low-income people were based on a provision of the Senate bill that does away with the Obamacare mandate that all Americans have health insurance.
If low-income earners opt to drop their health-care coverage as a result, they would also no longer receive the Affordable Care Act's federal subsidies for their premiums. Without those subsidies, which act like tax credits, their taxes would effectively go up.
But Hatch said it was unfair to call that a tax increase. "Anyone who says we're hiking taxes on low-income families is misstating the facts," he said.